Tuesday, 14-10-2014. Day 55.
It's Warm, It's Sunny, Let's Go For a Walk
One of the most convenient things about Perth is the Central Area Transit (CAT), the free bus service that runs through the city center. And stop 20 along the Yellow CAT route is right in front of the Murray Hotel.
We didn't know a thing about Perth, so after our free breakfast (complete with automatic pancake-making machine), we hopped on the Yellow CAT and rode down to the Murray Street Mall to catch one of Perth's free walking tours.
We had about half an hour to go before the tour started, so we took a look at an Australian Target. It was sort of like any Target you'd find in the United States, but with more Missoni and a lot less Halloween.
We walked back and met up with our guide, Michelle, who took us on a reasonably comprehensive tour of the greater Perth Central Business District (CBD they call it down here). We were the only four people on the tour, so it felt pretty intimate.
The tour started in Forrest Chase with the historic General Post Office (still in use today), and "The Cactus," a $1 million sculpture by Perth's own James Angus. It's not really called The Cactus, but that's what everyone calls it because it doesn't yet have an official name and, well, it sort of looks like a cactus.
We then walked through the the train station terminal, by the Western Australia Museum, the Perth Arena (which is a pretty cool building), and the Brass Monkey Hotel, where we caught the Blue CAT back to Hay Street.
We walked by the (convict built) Perth Town Hall and St. George's Cathedral, an old church that features a contemporary sculpture titled Ascalon in front of it, which represents St. George's lance and his cape (Ascalon was the name of the lance St. George used to slay the dragon).
We continued through Stirling Garden, which is the governmental seat of Perth and saw Council House, Government House, and Western Australia's Supreme Court, before we went to get a glimpse of the Bell Tower. More on this later, because it was lunch time.
This is where the official tour ended. It was a comprehensive tour and gave us a great foundation for further exploration of the city. It covered some of the city's major sights as well as more pedestrian (yet important) things, like how to get around Perth by public transit, where to find doctors and dentists, and restaurant recommendations. We had lunch in a food court in Westralia Plaza, then walked back to investigate this Bell Tower a little more.
This is an interesting building and your standard manufactured tourist attraction. It does have a little history behind it, though: it's where the Swan Bells are housed. 12 of these 18 bells were the bells that used to hang in Trafalgar Square in London (where they were known as the St. Martin-in-the-Fields bells) and notably were rung to welcome Captain James Cook home from his first voyage around the world in 1771 (the voyage where he mapped the east coast of Australia). The bells were gifted to Western Australia by the City of London in 1988 and just sat around in a warehouse or something until the Bell Tower was built in 2000.
One of the Bell Tower's big selling points is its collection of engraved "Love Locks" hanging all about the Tower entrance. For $30 you can have one of these brass heart-shaped (get it?) locks engraved with your names and date and then lock it to the chains outside the tower. Many people have done this. We did not.
Jackie really wanted to visit the top, and I was bit curious, so we plunked down our $30 (go family rate) and walked up the six flights of steps (some of us took the elevator). Let me just say this: unless you're really into bells, save your money. The building looks somewhat cool from the outside, but it just doesn't deliver on the inside. Because it has six levels, I was hoping for six different observation platforms, but there's only one at the top.
One of the levels has a room that's sort of a bell museum and another features an observation room where you can see the Swan Bells behind glass.
The day had been pretty warm and we did a lot of walking, so the girls had a little pool time back at the Murray (the water was quite chilly) before dinner, then I walked to a Zambrero (sort of like a Chipolte, but everything was a little sweeter) that was about 15 minutes away to get some food for the family.
- Burritos eaten: 1
- Buses ridden: 4
- Bells rung: 0